Mind the gap: women still losing out on pay - 22 Oct. 2009

Recent research by Incomes Data Services for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) shows the gender pay gap still shows no sign of narrowing. Women also have fewer promotion and progression opportunities in the workplace compared to their male colleagues.

Women are found to be more vulnerable than men to recession-based job losses, especially in less developed countries. The study therefore looked at the position of women in the labour market and how they can be provided with better access to decent work. The independent employment research organisation Incomes Data Services (IDS), the UK partner of the WageIndicator foundation, carried out the survey.

The research results show that we are still some way off decent standards in the workplace, particularly for women. The IDS research focuses on 12 countries and gathered more than 97,000 responses from the online WageIndicator country surveys over the period 2007-2009.

For example, the gender pay gap is still large at 28% in favour of men for full-time workers and 17% for part-time workers. The research also conducted a time-series analysis for seven WageIndicator countries. It shows that, between 2006 and 2009, the gender pay gap in each country has not closed over the period.

Not surprisingly, women are more dissatisfied with their pay than men in all countries surveyed.

One of the causes of the gender pay gap may be the higher incidence of women in part-time work, which is more often low-paid than full-time work. The survey found that, particularly in households with children, women are likely to work part-time. This shows that women still take up the majority of care responsibilities in the family and, as a consequence, are less likely to be in full-time paid employment.

Women also seem to struggle to climb the career ladder, with more men than women having received a promotion in all countries in the sample. Furthermore, in four out of five countries women were also found to have worse career opportunities than their male colleagues, with the Netherlands being the exception.

The research was carried out as part of the ITUC’s ‘Decent Work for Women’ campaign.  Decent Work is the main aim of the International Labour Organisation. It is supported by four strategic objectives:

  1. Standards and rights at work

  2. Employment creation and income opportunities

  3. Social protection and social security

  4. Social dialogue and tripartism

The UN furthermore focuses on gender equality and empowerment of women in the workplace in one of its Millennium Development Goals.


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